Janet Richards – just reward for her good work
While she has been working diligently without any expectations of rewards, no one can seriously question the fact that Janet Richards, who has been a stalwart in community service in western Jamaica, is most deserving of the Prime Minister's Award.
Richards, who has performed multiple charitable acts in Hanover and St James during the past 10 years, was one of 65 persons and organisations that were accorded the prime minister's Jamaica 55 Commemorative Medal of Appreciation on the grounds of Jamaica House, recently.
"I am grateful that the parish of Hanover appreciates my work, but it didn't come as a surprise because I have been doing the work for a long time now," said an elated Richards. "A lot of things that I do are not really known because I keep it within the confines of family, friends, and those who work with me."
An employee at the Bank of Nova Scotia's Sam Sharpe Square branch in Montego Bay, St James, Richards has spearheaded several community outreach programmes in Hanover, including an annual back-to-school treat for the children in her home district of Kendal.
"Every September, I do a back-to-school treat for the children in Kendal, and they get everything to go back to school, including books and food," said Richards. "It is done in memory of my mother, who used to cook for the children and gave them books and pencils, so I've continued the process and taken it over," she told The Gleaner.
Richards' charitable work is not limited to the work she does in Hanover. She is also quite active in St James, where she has done projects to support various organisations, including the Cornwall Regional Hospital.
However, her work in partnering with the Usain Bolt Foundation to support the Mustard Seed Communities' children's home in Adelphi, St James, and the Melody House for Girls in Irwin, St James, has all but made her legendary.
"Mustard Seed and the Melody Girls' Home are some of my personal projects. For Mustard Seed, I partner with Usain Bolt at Christmas and Easter. I do many Sunday evenings with the children," said Richards, who is a graduate of the Rusea's High School in Hanover.